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Friday, October 13, 2017

Phalaenopsis hieroglyphica

One of my favorite Phalaenopsis is our magnificent hieroglyphica 'Orchidglade.' It's a stunner.
It's flowers are larger, the colors richer and the blooming season much longer -six months!- than our other hieroglyphicas, which flower September through November. 'Orchidglade' is a vigorous grower and quickly makes a stunning specimen-sized plant.
Phalaenopsis hieroglyphica is endemic to Luzon, Polillo, Palawan and Mindanao in the Philippines. When our plant isn't on display we grow it in our warm greenhouse. It likes the classic Phal conditions -warmth (70º-85º), shade (80%), year round moisture and high humidity (80-90%). The inflorescences are pendant, so we grow our plants in baskets.
But it's those glpyph-like markings on the petals and sepals that make the flowers so mesmerizing. And the pink Velcro lip. What a terrific plant this is! You can see it flowering now in the Orchid Display House.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Pollinating Lycomormium

It's been a good month for Lycomormium here. This species has been flowering for three weeks, jostling for attention among the fiskei baskets in the Orchid Display House. Since we haven't yet produced seedlings from any of our Lycomormium species, this month presented a terrific opportunity to get some capsules on our plants.

Unfortunately, Lycomormium is incredibly difficult to pollinate using pollinia fresh from the anther cap. The yellow pollinia are like twin balloons that resist being stuffed into the narrow opening of the stigmatic cavity. Darwin described the same problem pollinating Gongora in On the Various Contrivances by Which Orchids Are Fertilized by Insects. His solution was to let the pollinia dry for five hours, with the rationale that the pollinia attached to an insect would dry and shrink as the insect foraged.

So, taking my cue from Darwin, I removed the pollinarium with its sticky disk from the anther cap using a pencil, and then slapped it onto the surface of the dorsal sepal. No worries about it coming loose. Pollinaria have emerged intact on my clothing after a trip through the washer and dryer at home. The photo above was taken after two days of drying in the greenhouse. You can see that the yellow pollinia have deflated and become concave after dehydrating. Pollination was easy after that.

In other Stanhopeinae, like Gongora maculata, the stigmatic cavity doesn't open sufficiently until the day after the pollinia are removed (Dodson AOS Bulletin Vol. 31 No.8). Changes in the size and shape of the pollinia and stigmatic opening make it unlikely that the bee removing the pollinia from an orchid will also pollinate it, and are important mechanisms in preventing self pollination.

Though we've had this accession for a while, it has remained Lycomormium sp. in our database since it has floral characteristics of both schmidtii and squalidum. A number of possible explanations exist, but it seems more work needs to be done on this genus. On the subtribal level LycomormiumPeristeria and Coeliopsis have traditionally been placed in the Stanhopeinae, but more recently Whitten, Williams and Chase (2000) have grouped them together in the Coeliopsidinae based on molecular and morphological evidence.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

In the Orchid Display House

Lycomormium fiskei ABG 19960924
Maybe it's the color -a true pink, without any of the red violet characteristic of so many 'pink' orchids -that makes Lycomormium fiskei so striking. And the size. Lycomormiums are hefty plants. Our plants, which are relatively small divisions of three or four pseudobulbs, measure three feet in height and must weigh 10 lbs each, basket included. The pendant inflorescence makes an open sided basket pretty much required for producing flowers on a Lycomormium.

Lycomormium fiskei ABG 19960924
Our lycomormiums have big waxy flowers and a strong sweet fragrance like many orchids pollinated by male Euglossine bees. They resemble the closely related Peristeria  -another genus with plicate leaves and smooth pseudobulbs -except for Lycomormium's immobile lip.

Lycomormium, Peristeria and Coeliopsis were for many years placed in the subtribe Stanhopeinae, but differ morphologically in having smooth ovoid pseudobulbs with 3-4 leaves, globose flowers, root hairs, a round viscidium adapted for attachment closer to the bee's head, a column foot, and the absence of a floral abscission layer allowing the flowers to fall off after they wither. Based on these morphological differences and on molecular analysis supporting the idea of two sister taxa, Whitten, Williams and Chase (2000) favor recognizing separate subtribes, Coeliopsidinae and Stanhopeinae.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Paphiopedilum kolopakingii

Paphiopedilum kolopakingii ABG 20120159
Paphiopedilum kolopakingii ABG 20120159
Paphiopedilum kolopakingii ABG 20120159
Our staff has lately been admiring this wonderful pale Paphiopedilum kolopakingii which we received in 2012 from Orchid Inn as Paphiopedilum kolopakingii var. topperi ('Jeanie' x 'Sam's Green Giant'). The typical kolopakingii has a lip that is burnished red amber.

The flowers of kolopakingii vary in size, with larger ones sometimes called variety topperi or gigantea. [But note that the Kew/MoBot Plant List doesn't recognize the varietal name topperi, and Phillip Cribb states in The Genus Paphiopedilum that he regards topperi as simply a large flowered form of kolopakingii.]

Kolopakingii makes a handsome specimen with all its flowers open simultaneously. The pale color of these flowers gives it a sort of ghostly presence in the hour before sunset in the Orchid Display House.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Paphiopedilum glanduliferum

Paphiopedilum glanduliferum 200120164

Paphiopedilum glanduliferum 200120164

Paphiopedilum glanduliferum 200120164

Paphiopedilum glanduliferum 200120164
Of the Asian slipper orchids in our collection, the species belonging to the section Coryopedilum are among the most striking. They don't have the candy and fruit bowl colors of some of the Chinese or Vietnamese slippers, like delenatii or armeniacum.  Instead, these species are regal and impressively big. They are also, at least in our warm climate, the easiest to grow. The eleven Coryopedalum species come from Indonesian and Malaysian islands where they grow at low elevations.
A clutch of them are flowering this month: glanduliferum, kolopakingii and sanderianum.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Snow Day

Atlanta had one of its snowless Snow Days on Friday in which schools, workplaces, and virtually the entire city closed down in order to allow everyone to rush to the grocery for bread, milk and batteries ahead of the impending Snowmageddon! (And, skeptics, we did get a little ice Friday night, so it was totally and completely justified.) So after everyone fled the Garden, I took the opportunity to take some leisurely pictures in the Orchid Display House. It was quiet and lovely in the semi-twilight.
See what you missed? Don't worry, most of these guys will still be in flower next week, plus many more. And don't forget, the Fuqua Orchid Center is one of the best places in town to spend a cold January day.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Bulbophyllum arfakianum

Bulbophyllum arfakianum ABG 20050050
Bulbophyllum arfakianum ABG 20050050
Bulbophyllum arfakianum ABG 20050050
Bulbophyllum arfakianum ABG 20050050
Bulbophyllum arfakianum ABG 20050050
Bulbophyllum arfakianum ABG 20050050
Bulbophyllum arfakianum unfurled its flowers for the first time last week, and I was felled on the instant. There isn't a single vantage point from which the flower doesn't look ravishing. Bulbophyllum arfakianum is native to West Papua, Indonesia. The specific epithet, arfakianum, references the Arfak Mountains, an outstandingly rich region of biological diversity on the Bird's Head Peninsula. Bulbophyllum arfakianum grows as an epiphyte in lowland forest at 50 to 400 meters elevation.

Bulbophyllum arfakianum ABG 20050050
How many other flowers can you think of that look as fantastic from the back as the front?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year's Day 2017

Acineta erythroxantha ABG 20050050
Happy New Year, everyone!! I want to wish you all a joyful new year. May 2017 be filled with discovery and delight in all of the botanical magnificence around us.

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